If All the World and Love Were Young
Winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection
Winner of the E. M. Forster Award
Winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature
Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize
Shortlisted for the John Pollard Poetry Prize
A Sunday Times, New Statesman and Telegraph Book of the Year 2019
‘Every poem in this book is a marvel. Taken all together they make up a work of almost miraculous depth and beauty’ Sally Rooney
‘A poetry debut fit to compare with Seamus Heaney. This wonderful long poem is up there with the greats’ Sunday Times
When Stephen Sexton was young, video games were a way to slip through the looking glass; to be in two places at once; to be two people at once. In these poems about the death of his mother, this moving, otherworldly narrative takes us through the levels of Super Mario World, whose flowered landscapes bleed into our world, and ours, strange with loss, bleed into it. His remarkable debut is a daring exploration of memory, grief and the necessity of the unreal.
A remarkable requiem for the poet's mother and for the worlds of childhood imagination...a beautiful, vital, generous work of art -- Lily Ni Dhomhnaill * The Stinging Fly * This is an extraordinary, moving collection of poems whose dense, constrained forms are the forms the intellect takes when it is coping; the self takes when it can, as it must; when the subject envelopes. This book is as rich and sustaining, as memorable and inimitable as is the loved one's voice. You will follow it across the Causeway, into the beached whale in Donegal, into the pixelated hyacinths and the heavy rain. With the munificent vocabulary of Alan Gillis and the gut-punched wisdom of Anne Sexton and Denise Riley, the speaker claims: 'I tried to make a monument from the emptiness of the house.' Sexton has made a monument. Readers: crowd around it. -- Caoilinn Hughes Poignant, playful yet disarmingly sincere, it's the year's best debut -- Tristram Fane Saunders * Telegraph Books of the Year * There's virtuosity aplenty in Stephen Sexton's poetry debut If All the World and Love Were Young, too. Imagery and emotion interweave in a work of astonishing maturity by the young Northern Irish poet, whose impressive new voice promises to help refresh contemporary verse. -- Fiona Sampson * New Statesman Books of the Year * Stephen Sexton's collection If All the World and Love Were Young has a playful quality and a lightness of touch that he somehow combines with the jagged-ness of grief to make a sequence of poems that is very fresh and eerily beautiful. It is clear from the first lines that this is a debut of significance, one that achieves a most difficult balancing act between wildness and control. -- Kevin Barry * New Statesman Books of the Year * The best poetry of the year so far * Sunday Times * Every poem in this book is a marvel. Taken all together they make up a work of almost miraculous depth and beauty -- Sally Rooney A poetry debut fit to compare with Seamus Heaney. This wonderful long poem is up there with the greats...A wonderful piece of writing * The Times * An astonishing debut...The writing itself hardly draws breath; it's crowded and confident in range and depth...If poetry is "about" anything, then If All the World is about cancer, bereavement, family life, natural and material worlds and the nature of memory. Despite this range it is quite astonishingly through-composed....it is a book to gulp down at one sitting, then to return to, to savour * The Guardian * The most impressive debut collection of the year so far: beautiful, sincere and unexpectedly heartbreaking -- Tristram Fane Saunders * The Telegraph *
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